Enrollment in 4K beating projection

Superintendent Desmond Means shared at the recent school board meeting that 125 students have already enrolled int he 4-year old kindergarten program.  This is 35 students higher, and almost 40 percent more, than estimated in the proposal approved by the school board this year.

School District, The Schools

Proposed State Budget Cuts Concern MTSD

The Mequon-Thiensville School Board has formally called on its local lawmakers “to actively advocate for an increase in funding for public education” from what is proposed in the state budget.

Board members spent about two hours at a special meeting Wednesday discussing the school-related implications of what Gov. Scott Walker has included in his 2015-16 biennial budget bill before unanimously approving a resolution proposed by school administrators.

M-T Superintendent Demond Means said the resolution makes the school district’s position – and request for action – clear to its local lawmakers, state Sen. Alberta Darling, R-River Hills, state Rep. Jim Ott, R-Mequon; and state Rep. Dan Knodl, R-Germantown.

“I think the terminology of ‘actively advocating’ does mean something – because we then get to observe what they’re doing and what they’re not doing,” Means said just after the board approved the resolution. “If we’re not seeking active advocacy to increase funding for public schools, we’ll see it.

The three local lawmakers all were invited to the session; none were able to attend. Means said that was understandable due to the press of legislative business in Madison and relatively short notice. He did single out an aide to Knodl, who specifically sought additional input on the district’s concerns and needs.

School board members made several changes to the draft resolution before approving it. They mainly centered around a line-item dealing with voucher schools. Here are the specific concerns with the proposed budget that the school board members raised in the resolution:

■ Walker’s budget proposal allows no increase in revenue limits in either the 2015-16 or 2016-17 school years.

■ None of the additional K-12 general aid will go to classrooms, resulting in a $230,000 loss in local revenue for the M-T school district.

■ The budget eliminates $135 per pupil categorical aid over a two-year period, “which results in an immediate and actual reduction of $127 million in public education funding statewide, which results in a loss of $470,000″ for M-T schools.

■ The budget expands taxpayer subsidies to private voucher schools and independent charter schools, “which will take money away from public school districts and reduce programs and services for public school children.”

■ The proposed phase-out of the Chapter 220 integration program that involves Milwaukee Public Schools and suburban districts, including M-T, “will result in a tax increase of approximately 5 cents per $1,000 of equalized value over a five-year period” to M-T taxpayers. Ending the program also is “a turn against diversity and inclusion.”

Means opened the meeting by saying there was “a pattern growing” with the budgets Walker has introduced since he was elected governor.

“This budget also signifies a decrease in investing in public education,” Means said. “We’re concerned about the trend we’re seeing with the governor’s budgets.”
Source: News Graphic, Gary Achterberg

School District, The Schools

Conclusion of Open Houses

The open houses at the schools in Mequon-Thiensville School District concluded in the final weeks before the referendum for $18.2 million on the April 7th ballot.  The referendum would provide $14.4 million for repair and update of facilities.  The remaining $3.8 million would go toward student-centered learning environments at Homestead High School, Lake Shore Middle School and Steffen Middle School.

Click here for additional information provided by MTSD.  Additional information from an advocacy group supporting the referendum can be found at yesmtschools.org

School District, The Schools

Reminder of April 7th Election

The following local elections are on the April 7th ballot.

Mequon-Thiensville School District — for three seats
Stephanie Clark, incumbent
Jonathan Jacobs
Cindy Werner

City of Mequon
District 6:
John Hawkins (incumbent and unopposed)

District 7:
Andrew Nerbun (incumbent and unopposed)

District 8:
Thomas A. Myers
Pam Adams (incumbent)

Village of Thiensville
Trustees: Kenneth C. Kucharski, unopposed, and Kim C. Beck, unopposed
Village President: Van A. Mobley, incumbent and unopposed

Mequon-Thiensville School Referendum
$18.2 million, 15 years

Early voting and absentee ballots are available at the Village Hall of Thiensville until 5 p.m. on Thursday, April 2nd and Mequon City Hall until 4:30 p.m. on Friday, April 3rd.

School Board, School District, The City, The Schools, The Village

Responses from District 8 Candidates for Mequon Common Council

Attached are the responses to 10 questions sent to the two candidates, Pam Adams and Tom Myers, for the contested District 8 seat for the City of Mequon Common Council. The column to the right provides links to the responses for each candidate for each of the ten questions.

InformMT_Aldermanic_Questions

The City

Candidate Forum Reminder

A reminder about the
Candidate Forum for
City of Mequon
Common Council
District 8
Pam Adams

Tom Myers
- Understand what each candidate stands for and believes

- Hear their responses to questions previously submitted by community members

- Decide how you will VOTE
When?
THURSDAY
MARCH 12, 2015
From 7pm to 8pm

Where?

ORIOLE LANE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL

SCHOOL CAFETERIA
12850 N. Oriole Lane
Mequon, WI 53097
Submit your questions for the candidates

The City

Responses from Cindy Werner

1.  What made you decide to run for Mequon-Thiensville School District Board of Directors?

 

All my life, I have harbored a hope to run for the Board of Education. Now, with three sons graduated from Homestead, I have reached an ideal time to pursue this opportunity. I believe that it is our responsibility as a community to prepare our children for the changes occurring so quickly in our society. Education opens doors. Teaching our children to think is paramount because the only way the world moves forward is when people are thinking.

 

 

2. If you could pick 2 specific things you are passionate about with regards to the District, what are they?

 

For me, two areas of passion are fiscal responsibility and differentiation in education. Regarding fiscal responsibility, my work and my life have been guided by a balance between ideal outcomes and financial prudence. While it is important to live within a budget, it is also essential to aim for the best possible outcome for the money being spent.

 

Regarding differentiation in education, I believe that we must challenge students at their unique levels of ability. Thanks to improvements in student assessment, we have the means to offer more individualized instruction.

 

 

3. One of the first things you’ll be doing is helping shape the District’s strategic plan for the next three years. What do you offer that nobody else does in crafting this plan?

 

In helping form the strategic plan I bring some unique things to the table.  Back in 1974-75, Mequon Thiensville became a K-12 district, and as a Homestead High School student, I served as a student representative to the committee that helped form the philosophy and goals. This was in the days before strategic plans. Now, forty years later, I stand here very proud of our schools. We offer many more academic and co-curricular opportunities than existed when I was at Homestead. I have a unique perspective of where we have been and as a former Donges Bay PTA President and active community volunteer, I have a perspective of where we should go as well.

 

4. There were many significant decisions made by the school board this past year.  What do you consider the most important decision and why?

 

I think the most significant decision by the board this past year is the addition of 4K.  The surrounding communities have offered the program for many years and Mequon Thiensville has not kept up.  The importance of early education is undeniable and we have the added benefit of counting those children for budget purposes. The larger than expected registration is indicative of an unmet need in our families. I believe 4K will be a great benefit to our community.

 

 

5. What are your thoughts on the facilities referendum that is on the April ballot?

 

Everybody in this community has a vote on the referendum. Personally, I support the referendum based on the findings of the community task force, which unanimously recommended the referendum after examining all possible budgetary options.

 

 

6. How would you define “success” at the end of your term on the school board?

 

I do not go into this work with a specific agenda, but I do hope to be a contributing member of a school board that is respectful, transparent, and effective at providing a superb education for all students at all levels.

School Board, The Schools

Responses from Jon Jacobs

1.  What made you decide to run for Mequon-Thiensville School District Board of Directors?

 

My wife and I and our four children moved here in 1998. We chose Mequon because of the school district and we made a great choice! Our four kids are all thriving in graduate and undergraduate programs around the country. It would take me many years of service to return half of what the community has given to us. My work this past year on the Superintendent’s Advisory Council was very rewarding and it provided a clear vision for me as to how I can contribute to the District.

 

 

2. If you could pick 2 specific things you are passionate about with regards to the District, what are they?

 

First, I am very proud of the recognition we have received from the State as the number one school district in Wisconsin. As the saying goes: “It takes a village.” From the School Board, the Superintendent, the Administration and all of our hard working teachers and students, you don’t receive such recognition by chance. We should all be proud of this fine achievement. Second, I am passionate about maintaining the strong ties among students, parents, teachers and administrators. We are in a fast evolving educational situation and this continuing strength of communications across and between groups is vital to being able to adapt.

 

 

3. One of the first things you’ll be doing is helping shape the District’s strategic plan for the next three years. What do you offer that nobody else does in crafting this plan?

 

There is a quiet revolution going on in education. Educational software solutions are beginning to show promise and our kids are already engaged in the media and are more than ready to take a significant leap forward in learning from such tools. After earning a Master’s Degree in Education and becoming certified as a Wisconsin High School Math and Business teacher, I have spent the last eight years of my professional career at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, one of the largest K-12 publishers in the world. This year was our first where digital revenue actually exceeded book revenue. Alongside us as educational publishers in the marketplace are great names like Amazon and Google while hundreds of entrepreneurs push the envelope daily. We are just at the early stages of digital education and I believe my experience in this realm can be most helpful.

 

In addition to student-centric software that will, over time, have a huge impact on how teachers and students interact, there are three initiatives that I will work to promote in the District. First, we must become stronger in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education. This isn’t just an M-T problem, but it is a national issue as well. To begin to address this issue, I would recommend that our kids begin learning computer programming as early as the first grade. It has become the new literacy in our world and it can only strengthen our kids’ potential as they head to college and the workforce. My bachelor degrees in Computer Science and Mathematics from Madison provide me with an excellent background to contribute in this initiative.

 

Second, I think we are weak compared to the nation in creating entrepreneurs. I would hope to work with fellow Board members and the Superintendent to consider implementing elementary school through high school curricula to promote one of our nation’s greatest educational strengths, entrepreneurship. Prior to our move here in 1998, I earned an MBA from Northwestern University and had the opportunity to start two companies on the east coast. I believe these experiences will provide unique insights to the Board should it agree with this direction.

 

Third, I would hope to assist the District to develop closer ties to the research colleges and universities in our vicinity and allow our students greater access to STEM research, facilities, graduate students, professors and internships.

 

 

4. There were many significant decisions made by the school board this past year.  What do you consider the most important decision and why?

 

The 4K decision was long past due. We are a leading community in our state for education but we had punted on this important development. Studies around the country have shown the significant value kids derive from the extra year of schooling and there were no standards across all the disparate private 4K options that existed in the community. Selfishly, as a Mequon property owner, I am happy to remove a significant barrier to selling houses to young families in Mequon-Thiensville. I sincerely appreciated the Superintendent’s vision and the Board’s careful analysis of the issue and the correct final decision.

 

 

5. What are your thoughts on the facilities referendum that is on the April ballot?

 

I think the Board and the Superintendent have done an extraordinary job carefully evaluating the options and putting forth a referendum in the best interest of the community. Beyond the absolutely essential facility recommendations, which, again, without which there will be significant deflationary pressure on our home prices, the $2.2 million to be allocated for technology upgrades to the media centers is key to the development of advanced technology solutions for our kids. I think the Board’s 7-0 vote to recommend the referendum speaks volumes as to how the community should view its importance.

 

 

6. How would you define “success” at the end of your term on the school board?

 

We must not sit on our laurels and we must push to keep the District as a leader in education in the state while providing a safe and nurturing education environment for all of our teachers and students. As the national education agenda remains politicized and muddled, it is important for the Board and the District’s Administration to set a clear strategic path which will allow our students to develop as solid citizens and make significant contributions to our nation throughout their lives. It also is every Board member’s responsibility to work in the best interest of the community, to minimize tax obligations while doing everything possible to increase the value of our schools and the properties from which their revenues are secured.

School Board, The Schools

Responses from Stephanie Clark

1.  What made you decide to run for Mequon-Thiensville School District Board of Directors?

 

I am running for re-election to my second term for two reasons:

1) To use my three years of experience and leadership on the school board to further advance the strategic plan and implement the new three year action plan and goals.  The school district has deepened its ability to prepare each student to be college and career ready but challenges remain.  My experience in developing the initial strategic plan and my deep understanding of the educational philosophy and desires valued by stakeholders will assure the next strategic plan targets challenges and needs identified in the district.

2) To continue to make certain the taxpayer gets their money’s worth from the communities’ educational system.  We are fortunate to have our property values buoyed, in part, by the excellent rankings our school district receives.  Rankings can be a tangible and quantifiable measure of the success of the educational philosophy and strategic plan developed by the school board and made real through the hard work and professionalism put forth by the MTSD educators, staff, students, and families.  Through strong fiscal oversight, taxpayer dollars will continue to target expenditures that produce increased academic achievement and student growth.

 

2. If you could pick 2 specific things you are passionate about with regards to the District, what are they?

 

I am passionate about results and accountability.  Results are achieved by setting GOALS through the strategic plan and aligning our actions to fulfill them.

  • Academic goals should ensure college and career readiness for all students.
  • Financial goals should ensure efficient use of resources that are targeted to bring about academic and social growth in our children.
  • Communication goals should bring positive relationships with all community stakeholders.

The school board models accountability by providing the leadership, direction, and oversight to ensure work across the district and in the classrooms continues toward achieving desired organization, classroom, and student results.

 

3. One of the first things you’ll be doing is helping shape the District’s strategic plan for the next three years. What do you offer that nobody else does in crafting this plan?

 

I offer the experience of being part of the team that successfully implemented the initial three year strategic plan.  My facility for critical thinking skills and research based decision making, combined with my leadership experience as an actively engaged parent at the high school, provides a powerful base of knowledge and skills as we renew the strategic plan, revise goals and develop and implement a new action plan.

 

 

4. There were many significant decisions made by the school board this past year.  What do you consider the most important decision and why?

 

By far, the most far reaching decision was the commissioning of the Community Engagement Ad Hoc committee – a demographically diverse group of seventeen citizens with financial, legal, educational and community backgrounds.  This group studied how “to financially sustain the excellence of MTSD” ultimately making recommendations that in turn the school board has considered and will continue to discuss including implementing 4K, a facilities referendum, developing innovative and economical curriculum delivery, selling district assets, and several more.

It ranks as the most important to me as it created a space for the diverse opinions in the community to come together and collaborate on solutions, many of which have been considered by the board. Not only did the district benefit from the laser focus of these experts but it was important to the health of the community for all viewpoints to be considered and included in the discussion.

 

 

5. What are your thoughts on the facilities referendum that is on the April ballot?

 

A referendum provides the opportunity to directly communicate with the Board of Education on the facilities or financial management of the school district.  It is prudent to include the citizens in the discussion of how best to maintain and improve our existing facilities.

 

In this case, the referendum looks to upgrade facilities that have exhausted their life cycle through the replacement or retrofit of aging and energy wasteful mechanical components and windows.  The referendum would also improve our ability to deliver 21st century learning through technology in a financially responsible structure and I think it is important to hear from taxpayers how they would like the board to proceed in meeting the strategic objectives of our district.

 

 

6. How would you define “success” at the end of your term on the school board?

 

Success for me will be determined by two things:

 

First, by successfully providing an equal opportunity for every child in our district to experience appropriate growth in his or her academic achievements as well as their social and emotional well-being.  As resources become tighter, MTSD must continue to be a leader in meeting those challenges while providing an excellent education that meets each student’s needs and enables them to be college and career ready.

 

Secondly, knowing the citizens of this community have received an excellent return on their investment in the public school system though the quality of the education received by its young people, and further, by protecting their property values through the public awareness of a superior public school system.

 

I feel I have delivered on those expectations in my first term and humbly request the opportunity to continue this work on your behalf.  Please see www.vote4clark.com for more information.

School Board, The Schools

Community Open Houses

On the April 7th ballot, there will be the $18.2 million facilities referendum for the Mequon-Thiensville School District.  Below are dates and locations for self-guided tours.  All open houses are from 5:30 – 7:30 pm.

 

Tuesday, March 17 at Oriole Lane Elementary School

 

Wednesday, March 18 at Steffen Middle School

 

Tuesday, March 24 at Donges Bay Elementary School

 

Wednesday, March 25 at Range Line School

 

Thursday, March 26 at Wilson Elementary School

 

Click here for more information.

School District